Behind Rolling Stone’s Cover, a Story Worth Reading

Of all the outraged responses to the Rolling Stone cover of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old suspect in the Boston marathon bombings, those from Boston were particularly acute. Mayor Thomas Menino wrote a letter of protest to Rolling Stone and several retailers with Boston ties said they would not sell the controversial issue.

And then on Thursday, Boston Magazine responded to Rolling Stone’s editorial decision with one of its own, publishing photos of the manhunt and arrest of Mr. Tsarnaev. The images were taken by Sgt. Sean Murphy, a photographer with the Massachusetts State Police who was described as “furious” about the Rolling Stone cover and accused the magazine of “glamorizing the face of terror.”

His protest, which included graphic photos of Mr. Tsarnaev during his capture, ended up creating a controversy of its own. According to Boston Magazine, Sergeant Murphy was relieved of duty just hours after he turned over hundreds of photos to the magazine.

Mr. Murphy’s actions may have put him in hot water at work, but it is not hard to understand the emotions that drove his decision. News developments, and the way they are presented in the news media, always fall harder on some than others, especially victims, families of victims and first responders.

Part of the mass umbrage would seem to stem from a misunderstanding of the magazine and its cover. From the very beginning, Rolling Stone has seen long-form journalism as part of its mission, and more recently has proven its journalistic chops with important stories about Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal and the so-called vampire squids of Goldman Sachs. Those were good, important stories and while the profile about Mr. Tsarnaev did not break a lot of new ground, it did an excellent job of explaining how someone who looked like the kid next door radicalized in place and, according to the federal charges, decided to attack innocents to make a political point. There is civic and journalistic value in finding out more about who this person is, and if the cover created in-bound interest, that would seem to be to the good.

Still, many piled on, accusing Rolling Stone of a cynical play for attention while they sought some of the same in their reaction. The actor James Woods, among others, found himself on the moral high ground, issuing a profane and personal rebuke to Jann Wenner, the owner and publisher of Rolling Stone.

Talk organized in Toronto about Canada in the wake of 9/11

The Toronto Star – December 4, 2011
Reading the Aftermath of 9/11: the Sociopolitical and Moral Implications was organized by the Intercultural Dialogue Institute, a Turkish Canadian peace group. Toronto’s police chief zeroed in on a single legacy of the 2001 terrorist attack on America that shocked — and changed — the world. The strongest partnership the police developed, he said, was with the Muslim community. It was instrumental in the arrest of the Toronto 18 — all radicalized young Islamic men — five years later.
The region’s imams also worked together. They agreed on a three-part plan. They would tackle Western misconceptions about Islam. They would urge Muslims to speak out against practices that had nothing to do with their faith. And they would seek help from the wider community.

Dutch Photographs Challenge Immigration Policies

14 October 2011

Photographer Jan Banning has developed a series entitled ‘National Identities’ intended to criticize “the nonsense of Dutch politics” in the debates over integration in the past ten years. The photos portray immigrants in scenes re-creating well known seventeenth century paintings. For instance his Moroccan Girl (Nissrine) Reading an Integration Exam Application Form at Closed Window resembles Vermeer’s Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window.

Muslims condemn Islamic group

Prominent Muslim organisations in Reading have condemned an Islamic group which has been set up in opposition to the Government’s Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) initiative. Reading Borough Council and Thames Valley Police are implementing a Home Office initiative designed to tackle violent extremism by working with Muslim communities.

The Evening Post reported on Friday that Reading PVE Crisis Group has been set up with the support of more than 1,000 Muslims who feel the Government initiative is unfairly targeting the Muslim community. But a statement from Reading Council for Racial Equality in response to the crisis group said: “We do not recognise the Reading PVE Crisis Group and condemn the way in which they have used the names of legitimate local Muslim organisations in order to justify their own political views.” The contents of the letter issued by the group do not carry the endorsement of many of the organisations listed.

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Terms agreed for new £4m mosque

Muslim leaders and a Berkshire council have agreed the final terms for a _4m mosque to be built in Reading. The mosque will be built on the corner of Wokingham Road and Green Road. The new building will include a prayer house, washing facilities, classrooms for male and female students and more than 100 parking spaces. Funding is being raised by the Muslim community. A report is due before the cabinet. The building, classical in design with a silver dome in the centre, will provide a social as well as religious focus for the Muslim community across Reading, the borough council said. The previous mosque, which will return to residential use, had inadequate parking facilities – there will be 115 parking spaces at the new building. David Sutton, Reading Borough Council leader, said: “This partnership between the council and the Muslims of Reading sends a strong message about community integration and social harmony in our town, and I am very proud about that. “I look forward to the grand opening of another new Reading landmark.”

Reading the Koran

For Muslims the Koran stands as the Text of reference, the source and the essence of the message transmitted to humanity by the creator. It is the last of a lengthy series of revelations addressed to humans down through history. It is the Word of God – but it is not God. The Koran makes known, reveals and guides: it is a light that responds to the quest for meaning. The Koran is remembrance of all previous messages, those of Noah and Abraham, of Moses and Jesus. Like them, it reminds and instructs our consciousness: life has meaning, facts are signs.